Thursday 15 November 2018
Myles McDevitt – UCFB Multimedia Sports Journalism Student 2018
Japanese Rugby is in rude health at the moment. Despite losing bravely to the All Blacks a couple weeks ago in Tokyo, they travel to England looking to build upon the foundations that they set themselves at Rugby World Cup 2015 where they shocked the world by beating two-times champions South Africa. A victory almost as shocking as when Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson in 1990.
Eddie Jones had masterminded the unprecedented Japanese success but they are in the capable hands of former All Black Jamie Joseph. This year has seen them beat both Italy and Georgia but they face their old friend’s England side on Saturday who will still be hurting after last weeks frustrating loss to the All Blacks.
Once the England game is completed, they will travel to Kingsholm, Gloucester for a friendly against Russia. These two sides will meet at next year’s World Cup in the opening match in Japan. They find themselves in a pool with the all-conquering Ireland a talented Scotland side and the ever-present danger of Samoa. This could almost be named the group of death given that Japan shook the world with that Victory over the Springboks in 2015.
Whilst it will be hard to get one over the Irish, Japan would need to set their sights on winning the crucial games against Samoa and Scotland. The Scotland game will surely be the decider of who goes through second in the pool. The Brave Blossoms will want to avenge that 45-10 defeat to Scotland at Kingsholm in 2015.
Former All Black legend Dan Carter believes that the Brave Blossoms have what it takes to go past the group stages at next years World Cup but they need to make sure that produce upsets along the way if they are to have any chance of being in the knockout stages of the competition.
It will be a tough ask for Japan next year but if they are to show they can progress past the knockout stages they will need to impress pundits and fans alike with performances against both England and Russia in the next couple of weeks.